When you have a Google Sheets spreadsheet full of data, it can be difficult to see certain cells at a glance. If you have empty cells where you expect data or errors generated from formulas, you can automatically highlight them.
Google Sheets offers useful features to make data entry and analysis easier. One such feature is conditional formatting. With it, you can configure your cells to contain a fill color or specific font style, color, or format when conditions like blanks or errors occur.
Automatically Highlight Blank Cells in Google Sheets
Select the cells where you want to apply the highlighting. You can do this easily by selecting the first cell and dragging through the rest. Then, click Format > Conditional Formatting on the menu.
This opens the Conditional Format Rules sidebar, which is ready for your new rule. If you have other rules set up already, you’ll need to click “Add Another Rule.”
In either case, make sure that the Single Color tab is selected.
At the top of the sidebar, confirm the cells that you want to apply the rule to in the “Apply to Range” box. You can make adjustments here if needed.
Next, go down to the Format Rules section. Click the “Format Cells If” drop-down box and choose “Is Empty.”
In the Formatting Style area, choose the formatting that you want to use to highlight the blank cells. You can pick a font style, color, or format, or use a fill color for the cells. And you’ll see a preview in the box above the formatting options. For our example, we’ll use an orange fill color.
When you’re finished, click “Done.”
Take a look at the cells where you applied the rule and give it a test if you like. You should see your blank cells pop with the formatting that you selected.
Automatically Highlight Errors in Google Sheets
For highlighting errors in Google Sheets, you’ll follow a similar process. However, there isn’t a built-in option for this like there is for empty cells, so you’ll actually enter a function of sorts.
Follow the same initial steps as described above by selecting the cells, clicking Format > Conditional Formatting from the menu, and choosing the Single Color tab at the top of the sidebar.
Confirm the range of cells in the “Apply to Range” box.
Click the “Format Cells If” drop-down box and choose “Custom Formula Is.” In the box that appears, enter the following and replace the cell reference in parentheses with your beginning cell:
In the Formatting Style section, select the formatting that you want to use to highlight the cells with errors. When you finish, click “Done.” For this example, we’ll use red bold text.
Review the cells where you applied the rule and test it if you wish. You should see cells containing errors display with the formatting that you selected.
For other ways to make your spreadsheets easier to read, take a look at how to alternate row or column shading in Google Sheets.